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Location Saudi Arabia, Ash Sharqiyah
Central coordinates 49o 53.80' East  27o 22.10' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3
Area 2,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Saudi Wildlife Commission (Affiliate)

Site description Five uninhabited coral islands (Harqus 27°56'N 49°41'E, Karan 27°44'N 49°50'E, Kurayn 27°39'N 49°50'E, Jana 27°22'N 49°54'E, Jurayd 27°11'N 49°52'E) in the northern Arabian Gulf, 35-90 km offshore. Island areas range from 2 to 120 ha (total c.190 ha), with a maximum elevation of 3-4 m, and they are surrounded by extensive, shallow coral reefs. There are wide, sand beach platforms, and the central parts of the larger islands are well-vegetated with Salsola and Suaeda, and Mesembryanthemum after good rains. The islands support local fisheries, and are valuable for recreational diving.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Socotra Cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis breeding  1991-1993  30 breeding pairs  good  A1, B2  Vulnerable 
Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis breeding  1993  24,250 breeding pairs  medium  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii breeding  1993  3,500 breeding pairs  medium  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi breeding  1993  2-3 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi non-breeding  1993  50 individuals  good  B3  Least Concern 
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa breeding  1993  10,400 breeding pairs  medium  A4i, B1i, B3  Least Concern 
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus breeding  1993  34,400 breeding pairs  medium  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1993  72,550 breeding pairs  good  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Sea   major
Coastline   minor
Desert   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture major
tourism/recreation major
other minor
Notes: Collection of seabird eggs occurs regularly.

Other biodiversity Reptiles: important breeding populations of sea-turtles Eretmochelys imbricata (E) and Chelonia mydas (E). Invertebrates: the surrounding coral reefs are thought to be the best-developed and most diverse in the Gulf.

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by P. Symens and A. Suhaibani.

References Basson et al. (1981), Symens and Evans (1993).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gulf coral islands. Downloaded from on 21/09/2014

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